Brexit Anxiety …. Branxiety?
Nothing to see here ….the MPs are back in their constituencies. Some are saying they shouldn’t be having a break but when I look at the braying, and the booing and the shouts of “go home” that our SNP MPs seem to face every time they open their mouths, I’m glad they are having a break. It must be exhausting to go to work in such a toxic environment. I’m glad they have each other and I hope they are looking after their mental health properly.
Are some of you wondering why I’m wittering on about mental health in regards to our MPs? Well, over the last few months many people have spoken to me about the effect of Brexit on their mood and their mental health. It’s not been great. And we now potentially have to continue with this until October.
For some people already struggling with poor mental health, this relentless political upheaval really does make them feel worse, increases their anxiety and affects their quality of life. Even people who find politics fascinating are struggling. There is a sense of anger being quite close to the surface and some have said they feel sick, particularly as we face deadlines like Fridays.
Lots of people are saying how worried they are, they have been telling me they are struggling to sleep, staying up too late, worrying about price rises and how they will manage if their Carers have to leave Britain.
The rise of the far right is also causing distress for many of the people I speak to. Some of the footage on the tv and particularly on social media which shows some loudly proclaiming their hate filled views is really upsetting, particularly to people who voted leave. Several people have said that they didn’t expect this xenophobia and it is distressing to see it growing and becoming darker and more sinister.
All this contributes to a feeling of impotence and lack of control which again can affect our mental well-being.
So how do we deal with this? Well, for me I write these updates. It keeps me informed and on top of things and it helps to keep things in perspective.
For others it might be joining a group – not necessarily party political based, environmental maybe, campaigning for a local group, your kids schools parent council. Anything which gives you an opportunity influence or take part in changing things for the better. To coin a phrase “taking back control” of things is helpful in countering that sense of helplessness.
Some would say “just turn it off” or don’t worry about it but often that doesn’t help if your health is suffering. It’s just not that easy. So let people know how you are feeling, speak to people that you trust to give you good information and understand what is going on and to be gentle with you.
I can’t promise it’s going to get any easier though folks. There is no sign of an agreement with Labour on getting a deal. Nigel Farage and his ilk are going to be popping up on our screens as we gear up for the European elections and we will have to take our humour where we can find it.
Meanwhile in Scotland we may be moving towards a second independence referendum. Whilst that’s my own positive opportunity to change things it isn’t the same for everyone and I know others feel as anxious about it as I do about leaving Europe. We need to be kind. We need to be supportive of people who feel threatened by independence and by those of us passionate about it.
So here is my commitment to those of you who are going to struggle with a referendum.
I will answer any questions honestly. I will not ask you how you will vote and I will not start conversations about Independence which are designed to beat you into submission. If you have questions or worries that are keeping you up at night then I promise you can ask me about them. I will be gentle and kind and honest and I will give you space to express your worries and concerns and help you to find your own answers, whatever those might be. That doesn’t mean I won’t be robust and we won’t have really strong debates but I will never be unkind.
Our MPs are going to be stepping back into the toxic place that is Westminster, thankfully I don’t have to do that. Twitter is bad enough! I’m keeping my eyes on the prize because in the end I’m hoping for an independent Scotland as a route to a fairer better society for all of us. That’s a positive vision and a great place to start.